Gov. Strickland participates in Mahoning Valley St. Patrick’s Day Parade
For the St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on Market Street in Boardman Sunday.
910th Airlift Wing.
Civil Air Patrol.
Sons of Confederate Veterans
St. Patrick’s Church, Oakhill Drive, Youngstown.
Captain McFinn and Friends
Penn-Ohio Newfoundland Club
Drum and Bugle
Ursuline High School
Youngstown Symphonic Band
Red Hackle Band
Gleannmor Pipe Band
O’Donold’s Irish Pub
U.S. Navy Operating Support Center
Best Theme (Families — the heart of Ireland)
Best of Parade
Source: Rob Kale, St. Patrick’s Day parade treasurer
By BOB JACKSON
This year’s Mahoning Valley St. Patrick’s Day Parade was even bigger than its organizers had expected, in spite of steady rain and chilly temperatures.
Planners were looking for up to 160 entrants to walk, ride, wave, march or otherwise participate in the parade, which was in its 32nd year.
“When the weather turned good several days ago, people started calling and wanting in,” said Joyce Kale-Pesta, parade president. But when Sunday’s weather ended up being cold and rainy, she feared that some of those who’d signed up would end up bowing out.
Instead, just the opposite happened.
“We got more than we’d anticipated,” said Casey Malone, parade director, who said there ended up being 165 entrants. “I was shocked.”
Kale-Pesta said it was one of the largest years ever for the parade, which is said to be among the 10 largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States.
Awards were given for Best of Parade, Best Irish Theme, Best Float, Best Band, Best Pipe Band, Best Drum Line, Best Marching Unit, Best Novelty and Best Color Guard.
There were marching bands, floats, clowns, local dignitaries, dogs and llamas, firetrucks, police cars, Irish step dancers and, of course, lots of politicians.
Seeing elected officials and candidates in a parade is nothing new, but many at Sunday’s parade were shocked to see Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland among them.
“I can’t believe the governor was here,” said Ed Maloney of Boardman, who attends the parade each year with his family. “That’s impressive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”
Kale-Pesta said it was indeed the first time a sitting governor has participated in the local parade.
She said there also were parades in Columbus and Cincinnati on Sunday, so she was humbled that Strickland chose to be in Youngstown.
“I wanted to have a little fun, quite frankly,” Strickland said of his choice to walk in the Mahoning Valley parade rather than going to one of Ohio’s larger cities.
“I think there is a special appreciation for St. Patrick’s Day here in this area.”
Strickland said he had participated in the parade when he represented part of the area as a congressman and wanted to come back again this year.
The grand marshal this year was Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini, a Youngstown native and former world-champion boxer who now lives in Los Angeles and works as a movie director.
Malone said parade officials took some good natured flak about having an Italian serve as the grand marshal of a parade that celebrates Irish heritage, but Mancini said he earned the title.
“My mother [Ellen Attreed Mancini] was full-blooded Irish, and my grandmother was a Flynn. That’s about as Irish as you can get,” he said before the parade.
He noted that during his boxing career, while he was noted for wearing an Italian flag on the outside of his trunks, he always had a green shamrock sewn on the inside as a tribute to his mother.
“He wanted to have the luck of the Irish with him when he boxed,” Kale-Pesta said.
Mancini, who retired from boxing in 1985, said this was the first year he has been to the parade in any capacity and he was excited to be here.
“I’m very proud of my heritage,” he said, noting that he had flown in from the West Coast with his family just for the parade.
Although Sunday’s spectator attendance wasn’t quite as high as last year’s record of some 40,000, Malone said there were still about 35,000 people who lined the parade route along Market Street to watch the festivities.
Among them was Julie Shaw of Austintown, who stood behind her children, Liam, 10, Wade, 7, and Camryn, 6.
“Candy,” Shaw said with a laugh, explaining why the family had come to its first St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “They wanted candy.”
The kids were decked out in green hats and other gear, including a green fright wig atop Wade’s head.
“We went shopping on the way over here,” Shaw said, laughing again.
And kids who came to the parade looking for candy were not disappointed, as sweet treats were tossed by the fistfuls from parade participants to those standing along the street.
That was the deal for John Buffone of Leetonia, who attended with his wife, Nicole, and their children, Nako, 15, Joby, 6, and Anna, 8.
“We always come up here for the parade,” Buffone said. “My wife is definitely a parade person, and so are the kids.”
Buffone said the firetrucks are his favorite part of the parade, then he pointed to his kids who were scrambling to pick up candy and put it into their bags.
“These guys like the treats,” he said.
David Felger of East Palestine, wearing a kilt and a Scottish cap, said he’s been to the parade every year since his family moved to the area when he was 6.
“It’s just a good time,” the 21-year-old said.
“I like to look at the floats and just enjoy St. Patrick’s Day.”
The Vindicator, Clear Channel and WFMJ Channel 21 were the parade’s major sponsors.